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Buhari must demonstrate boldness in his ministerial appointments


President Buhari has started on the right foot with his statement that not all ministerial nominees would have a ministry to supervise since there will not be thirty six ministries to supervise. This is his first bold move. If I had been elected the president I will not have more than seven super ministries and eleven junior ministries for a total of 18 ministries. 

The seven super ones would be (1) finance, (2) agriculture, (3) transportation/infrastructure/aviation/railways, (4) education, (5) mines/solid minerals, (6) oil/power, and (7) industries. The rest of existing ministries would be merged into eleven junior ministries including defense and foreign affairs. The message would be that I would spend little on defense and would pull back from foreign involvements. I will no longer be “The Giant of Africa” and the sub Saharan Africa super power providing peace and security to Africa. I will try to get my house in order first.

My seven super ministries would not have junior ministers. I will have just a minister on whom all responsibility would be placed on for easy and quick decisions and execution. The remaining nominees would manage the other eleven ministries with Sports and women affairs getting as much as three ministers each, just to keep them busy winning world cups and other national emergencies.

Defense and external affairs would have two ministers. Even more important the seven super ministries would have 75% of the budget and the eleven junior ministries would have only 25% of the budget among them. My goal will be that if the seven ministries perform very well, I will consider my administration successful. Please note that Boko Haram is under the defense department which would be a junior ministry and that corruption would be under the judiciary also a junior ministry. 

I consider putting food on each family’s dining table of more importance than defeating BH. If I have a well fed nation the BH would die a natural death. If I have good paying jobs, corruption would decrease also. It is now difficult to distinguish between a corrupt person and one trying to survive. Is a policeman taking money from drivers to feed his family really corrupt? When he is owed three months’ salary in arrears?

The other bold move PMB could make is not to appoint Mr. Rotimi Amaechi as minister for Delta Affairs and not to appoint a northerner as Minister for FCT. I will appoint a northern Muslim as the minister of Delta Affairs and a SE/SS Christian as the minster for FCT. My reason for the two appointments would be to make it clear that these are federal functions and any Nigerian could hold such posts and any Nigerian could apply to work in these federal ministries and get promotions and advance their career. They are not the exclusive preserve of any section of the country since they are run by the federal government with federal resources.

My other bold move is that I would appoint at least two ministers (one of the super ministers and one of the junior ministers) from known PDP sympathizers but who are eminently qualified to be on the cabinet to show that I value talent and not political buffoonery. Of course if they start working for PDP they would be gone in a Boston Minute. This will also be true of any APC sympathizer cabinet member. All cabinet officers’ loyalty would be first to the nation and secondly to me. I will make this clear at the swearing in ceremony for that would be the oath they would be swearing to.

I will appoint at least three women to the super cabinet positions just like Obasanjo and Jonathan did. Those presidents’ successes occurred in the ministries headed by women. A woman can do what a man can do, possibly better and Nigeria has an abundance of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Appointing them to the positions means that I would hold them to the same high standard and would accept no excuses.

These bold moves are merely external signs of inward grace. The inward grace is that my goal would be to leave the country with basic needs: a nation that can feed itself and then some; an educated work force ready to compete with the Asian Tigers and industrialized nations; a nation of everlasting infrastructure from power to roads and public transportation; a nation or exporters of manufacture or processed goods; a nation that can manage its finances and control and strengthen the value of her currency; and a nation whose citizens can hold up their heads everywhere in the world.

By going on this route, the root causes of corruption would be uprooted; the dissatisfaction that led to BH or the agitation for Biafra, Oduduwa Republic, and the calls for dismemberment of Nigeria would slowly dissipate. Starting the war from corruption and BH would be fighting the symptoms instead of engaging the disease and would end in disaster. If people live in dire straits, they would seek other ways to be better.

It is a natural law.

Will PMB make the right call? We shall see.

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts

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